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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

November 28, 2002: Sturm Graz Lazio 1-3

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Inzaghi and Chiesa take Lazio to a probable 4th round


Two goals by Inzaghi and one from Chiesa allowed Lazio to face a comfortable return in the first leg of the third round of the UEFA Cup.






The season so far


The previous season had not been a positive one. Lazio had started under Dino Zoff but after three games changed manager and President Sergio Cragnotti chose Alberto Zaccheroni. The new coach, however, never managed to set the sail straight. Struggling to find a minimum of game organisation, the team just did not have the continuity necessary to reach the top positions. In the end they did manage a UEFA Cup qualification thanks to a win in the last game against Inter which shattered the Neroazzurri’s hopes of winning the scudetto.


For this season there was the return of Roberto Mancini, this time as manager. There were high hopes among the Lazio fans but President Sergio Cragnotti was having considerable financial difficulties and someone had to be sold. The first player who everybody had their eyes on was obviously Alessandro Nesta. Cragnotti hoped that Milan, Inter and Juventus would battle to the end to get the greatest defender of all time and that the price would be really high. Instead there was a secret pact between them to get the player for a much lower price than his real value. All three clubs waited until the very last moments of the transfer window to force Lazio to accept a low price. Milan won and Cragnotti was forced to agree to a mere €31 million. At this point a second player had to go and that was Hernan Crespo who was sold to Inter in exchange of €36 million and Bernardo Corradi.


Other signings had been Massimo Oddo and Christian Manfredini from Chievo, Enrico Chiesa on a free transfer, and Juan Pablo Sorin, on loan from Cruzeiro. Leaving Lazio were Ivan de La Pena to Espanyol and Gaizka Mendieta on loan to Barcelona plus Karel Poborsky who had decided not to renew his contract.


Mancini had to reinvent the team and he did a really good job. Corradi took Crespo’s place and became a fundamental player on the chess board, opening up gaps for Claudio Lopez. They did struggle at home, but this was compensated by many wins away. The season looked promising.


As far as the Uefa Cup was concerned, Lazio comfortably passed the first round against Xanthi thanks to a 4-0 home win in the first leg. Round two was slightly more complicated after a 1-0 in the first leg at home against Red Star Belgrade. Lazio went under in the second leg, but Enrico Chiesa solved everything taking Lazio to the third round.


The match: Thursday, November 28, 2002, Graz, Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium


Lazio was clear favourite against Sturm Graz and would have led 4-0 in the first half had Simone Inzaghi scored all of his chances. At the beginning of the match he was face to face

with the goalkeeper but his shot went wide; in the 29th minute after a cross from Lucas Castroman, Inzaghi fired the ball over the crossbar despite a favourable position; in the 37th minute he again shot the ball wide and shortly after he became an involuntary defender for the Austrians by being in the wrong place at the wrong time after a Sorin shot from outside the penalty box.


Sturm Graz responded by creating a couple of chances but they were comfortably managed by the Lazio defence. This until the 45th minute when an Imre Szabics counter attack found Charles Amoah all alone in the penalty box. He dribbled Angelo Peruzzi, a bit too slow in his reaction to the cross, and it was 1-0 for the Austrians.


Lazio was quick to react. In the first minute of the second half a Chiesa volley off a Fabio Liverani corner made it 1-1. Eleven minutes later Inzaghi finally found the back of the net thanks to a Chiesa assist.


The Austrians attacked in a desperate attempt to equalise but their lack of precision and some Peruzzi saves avoided any damage. Three minutes from the end there was a free kick for Lazio. Liverani’s weak shot was fumbled by Heinz Weber and Inzaghi made it three for Lazio.


Not an easy match for the Biancocelesti, but it looked like the fourth round of the Uefa Cup was very close indeed.


Who played for Sturm Graz


Weber, Golemac, Angan, Strafner, Wetl (60' Korsos), Masudi, Mahlich, Brzeczek (81' Rauter), Dag, Amoah (76' Mujiri), Szabics.

Substitutes: Hoffmann, Petrovic, Heldt, Bosnar.

Manager: Foda.


Who played for Lazio


Peruzzi, Oddo, Negro, Couto, Pancaro, Castroman (71’ Cesar), D. Baggio, Liverani, Sorin (71’ Manfredini), S. Inzaghi, Chiesa (’84 Colonese).

Substitutes: Concetti, Fiore, Stankovic, C. Lopez

Manager: Mancini


Referee: Granat (Poland)


Goals: 45’ Amoah, 46’ Chiesa, 57’ S. Inzaghi, 87’ S. Inzaghi





What happened next


Lazio did go to the fourth round of the Uefa Cup despite losing at home 1-0 in the second leg. They actually made so much progress in the competition that they reached the semi-final. Unfortunately, they collapsed in the first leg 4-1 against Porto and were unable to score the three necessary goals at home to get to the final (0-0).


In Serie A, the splendid form continued in the winter and at one point Lazio was top of the table after recovering from a 0-2 deficit and winning 3-2 at Piacenza. But any dreams of scudetto faded between January and March with seven matches and no wins. Champions League was still possible but a missed penalty from Fiore against Juventus at home and a loss at Udine in the final match meant Lazio lost out by just one point. In Coppa Italia Lazio lost against the other team from the Italian capital in the semi-final.


There was a change in the Presidency in early 2003. Some of Cragnotti’s companies went bust and the banks did not lend a hand. Lazio were also dragged into the crisis and the Presidency passed over to Ugo Longo who was member of the Board of Directors. With the help of Luca Baraldi, the new presidency avoided bankruptcy. Just.


Lazio 2002-03

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

34

15

15

4

57

Coppa Italia

6

3

1

2

7

UEFA Cup

12

6

4

2

18

Total

52

24

20

8

82

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Lopez

47

34

4

9

Fiore

46

33

5

8

Stankovic

38

29

2

7

Cesar

36

26

1

9

Corradi

36

32

4

-

Peruzzi

36

30

-

6

Top Five Goal Scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Lopez

17

15

-

2

Corradi

10

10

-

-

Fiore

9

6

1

2

S. Inzaghi

9

4

1

4

Simeone

7

7

-

-

Chiesa

7

2

1

4

Let’s talk about: Lucas Castroman


April 29, 2001. Derby. Lazio was losing 2-1 and there were 30 seconds to go. Sinisa Mihajlovic took the corner, the ball was cleared outside the penalty box, and in came Lucas Castroman who managed to keep the ball low and score. From then on Castroman stops being a football player and becomes a legend.


Born in Lujan, Argentina, on October 2 1980 Lucas started his career at Velez Sarsfield in 1998 and stayed there until the winter transfer window of 2001 when he came to Lazio. A good right winger, he arrived in a team that had won the scudetto and was full of great players. One cannot really say that he was a champion but he was a good player and very generous.


He stayed with Lazio for three years, not really playing at lot: 37 games in Serie A (4 goals), 6 in Coppa Italia (one goal), 4 in Champions League and 8 in the UEFA Cup (one goal).


In 2003 he was loaned for a year to Udinese and then sold definitely back to Velez Sarsfield a year later. He stayed with Velez until 2007 when he joined Club America in Mexico. In 2008 he had a brief stint in Argentina again with Boca Juniors and in 2009 he joined Racing de Avellaneda. He ended his career early, at just 30 years of age, in 2010.


Not the greatest of careers, but Lazio fans will never forget him.


Lazio Career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

UEFA Cup

Jan-Jun 2001

13 (2)

10 (2)

-

3

-

2001-02

12 (1)

11 (1)

1

1

-

2002-03

29 (3)

16 (1)

5 (1)

-

8 (1)

Totals

54 (6)

37

6

4

8

Sources


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